Masks or facial coverings are required in City-operated facilities, public transit and ride share.

Face covering requirements | Re-opening information

Conflict resolution during COVID-19: Best practices for frontline workers

Businesses are required to follow public health orders to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including the City’s face coverings bylaw and Government of Alberta restrictions.

Reminding each other to follow public health orders can be awkward, stressful or escalate to being dangerous. Here are a few ways to frame those conversations in positive ways, and when to call for help.

Customer service interaction strategy

The dialogue prompts below have been drafted using the customer service strategy HEAT. HEAT is a method of interaction and the acronym stands for:

Hear – acknowledge that you have heard the customer’s concern. Often, you can repeat their concern back to them in same language that they have used to you (if appropriate and professional).

Emphasize – Acknowledge the legitimacy of the customer’s concerns, particularly the emotional content. Place yourself in the customer’s shoes and look to understand the situation from their perspective or vantage point.

Apologize – If necessary given the context, apologize for the conflict. The language used here should be words that often and colloquially communicate empathy.

Take action – Using only positive language, describe to the customer the steps to move the situation towards a resolution. Complete these steps together with the customer. In doing so, the customer should be provided with a line of sight or clear understanding of the next steps following the situation. Focus should be placed on again understand the legitimacy of the emotions that have been caused in this situation, and on addressing the customer’s unexpressed need.

A customer walks in without a mask

Operational solutions:

  • Offer a disposable mask that the customer can safely pick up and put on for themselves.
  • Offer to shop for the customer while they wait outside and provide curbside pickup if possible.

Conversation prompts:

  •  “I know this is a difficult and stressful time for everyone, myself included. Are you unable to wear a face covering because of a medical exemption?”
  •  “I understand you may not want to wear a mask or face covering. Can we arrange to deliver your goods outside socially distant, or offer you curbside pickup?”
  • “Our business has a number of employees who are really vulnerable and we’re asking for your help. Would it be ok if you wore a face covering?”

Groups are congregating where they shouldn’t, or not following physical distancing

Operational solutions:

  • Place markers on the floor showing how far apart people should stand.
  • Use arrows to guide customers in one-way traffic around the store.
  • At your business entrance, have clear signage saying how many people can be in your store under the current public health guidelines.

Conversation prompts:

  • “I know we all want to gather again – just like you, I’d love to go shopping with my friends. For now though, until we’re all safe, can we all spread out and follow the arrows on the floor?”
  • “We’ve put capacity limits in place with you in mind – we want to keep you, me, and all of us safe during these unprecedented times.”
  • “We’re trying as a business to follow the public health guidance. We have some employees that are vulnerable. Can you help us with that and space out a little bit?”

Customers are unaware of the latest public health orders.

Operational solutions:

  • Tell customers to visit to learn about the health orders in Calgary and Alberta.
  • Utilize signage from The City of Calgary and Government of Alberta that directs individuals to web resources.

Conversation prompts:

  • “I know it’s difficult because the rules are constantly changing. To help me figure things out, I Google the latest rules a few times a week. For example, the government has just changed the rules to *new rule here*
  • “The thing that hasn’t changed over the last year is that everything is changing all the time. I know it’s frustrating, but the government has just changed the rules to *new rule here*

A customer wants to debate the validity of public health orders

Operational solutions:

  • Tell customers to visit to learn about the health orders in Calgary and Alberta.
  • Utilize signage from The City of Calgary and Government of Alberta that directs individuals to web resources.

Conversation prompts:

“I know it’s frustrating and we respect your concerns. We do have employees and customers here that are vulnerable. We apologize for the inconvenience. Ultimately, we all need to follow the law. Can you please…*desired action here*?”

A customer becomes aggressive

It’s important that if you feel that your safety is being threatened or you are in immediate danger, call 911. Remain calm, quiet and consistent in your demeanor. Consider acknowledging that you feel intimidated.

Conversation prompts:

  • “Would it be ok if we started over and talk about how we can get you what you deserve?”
  • “I’m going to call for help because I’m feeling intimidated.”

Managing your entries

Visual cues can help your customers remember to wear a mask or sanitize.

If you have a large entry, we recommend making it smaller by blocking an area with a table or gate. In addition to this helping you manage your capacity, you can set up a station with disposable masks and hand sanitizer, if you are able. When customers walk past this station, it will remind them to take precautions and help to limit the spread of COVID-19. 


Print these posters and stickers for your windows, walls and entries to remind customers of how to keep each other safe. 

In partnership with

This was built in partnership between The City of Calgary, the Calgary Chamber, and academic experts.

If your customers disregard polite requests, contact Alberta Health Services by calling 1-833-415-9179, or The City at 311 or the Calgary Police Service non-emergency line at 403-266-1234.

If you feel that your safety is being threatened, call 911. 

Mental health resources

Dealing with these kinds of situations can be difficult and pose a risk to your mental health. If you need support and resources, please call 211 to access services in the community 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also connect with 211 online.